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ICT underpins a strong education vision at Sandymoor School

Civica delivers an ambitious ICT installation in time for Sandymoor to open in September.

Download Sandymoor Case Study (pdf)

Civica has been working with Sandymoor School for three years, supporting them through the start-up phases of their free school. In that time, the school has grown from 40 in year 1, to 110 in year 2 and this year, they opened in September with 176 students.

Delivering an ICT vision in temporary buildings

For the first two years they taught out of temporary portakabin buildings which were added to as the number of students grew. In September 2014, they moved into their new, purpose-built school with a capacity for 900 students.

Andrew Howard and his founding governors had developed a strong vision for their free school and ICT was identified as a crucial delivery mechanism. Civica took time to understand the school’s vision and worked closely with the Head Teacher to deliver the same ICT solution in the temporary buildings as they would eventually have in the new school so that they could deliver against their vision from the very beginning.

The classrooms in Sandymoor School have no front-of-class and no teacher’s desk. The school strongly believes in a more integrated teaching approach so that no student is left at the back of the classroom. With dual projection, ceiling speakers and wireless technology enabling the teacher to drive the lesson content from their mobile device, every child can see, hear and get involved with their learning.

Regular communication delivered the right ICT solution

At the heart of the successful ICT implementation at Sandymoor School was the  regular communication and engagement of all stakeholders. A regular project board meeting was set up where the proposed ICT solution for the new school was developed in-line with their vision, any lessons learnt from using the ICT in the temporary buildings were communicated and new technology was reviewed.

Based on this initial ground work, initial specifications were written that showed the perfect solution to deliver their vision. This specification was then reviewed to see what was achievable with the available budget and where we could make savings without compromising on the school’s vision. Civica worked with a wide range of partners to realise cost efficiencies for the school as well as identifying alternative technologies to create better value for money.

"Civica worked really well with all involved in the build project from school staff to builders. This was incredibly important to us, because my priority had to be the running of the school, so I needed suppliers I could trust to deliver. I was delighted that the school opened on time with all ICT systems working well. In fact, core ICT systems were operational 15 days before." Andrew Howard, Head Teacher at Sandymoor School

Responding to change quickly to benefit the school

It can be hard to keep up with advances in technology so it was crucial that Civica kept Sandymoor School up to date with changes that could help them deliver their vision more effectively and/or more affordably. In addition to technological changes, the school were effectively testing out the ICT solution in their temporary buildings so it was important to review the effectiveness of the technology deployed. Regular communication was essential to ensure that everyone moved in the same direction.

For example, Microsoft released SharePoint 2013 and Office 365 after the initial tender for Sandymoor’s ICT. Civica worked with this new technology to develop a powerful, customisable online learning  environment for the school. The Head Teacher, Andrew Howard, working closely with our e-Learning Consultants, quickly identified the potential benefits in using Office 365 across his school.

Initially the tender had included a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution that would give students access to the school network from anywhere. With Office 365 deployed, the need for this disappeared, so Civica amended implementation plans and provided e-learning consultant support to help the school embrace the new Office 365 technology.

The school still uses VDI, but in a smaller capacity and mainly to extend the life of their hardware, stretching their budget further.

Now, Office 365 is at the heart of everything the school does and it goes beyond teaching and learning to support the school with administrative tasks and school management.

How is Microsoft Office 365 being used at Sandymoor School?
  • All students have a virtual homework diary that is linked to their calendar.
  • It provides a staff intranet
  • Online form completion such as leave of absence forms
  • Improved staff-student communication
  • Currently working on developing behaviour reporting for the students to eradicate bullying

Two of the teachers at Sandymoor are Microsoft Innovators and the school have embraced the new Office 365 technology so much that they have just been confirmed as a Microsoft Showcase School.

"Microsoft Showcase Schools are premier schools with a strong vision and an innovative learning environment enabled by technology. Civica helped Sandymoor School in setting up a platform using Office 365 technology, that engages everyone. Sandymoor School have taken that technology forward and are using it in new and innovative ways with real educational benefits for their students." Mandeep Atwal, UK Schools Audience Manager at Microsoft

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